Courtesy, complete profiles critical on LinkedIn

Not just for kids anymore, social media has forever changed the way we communicate, both personally and professionally. Facebook is still the No. 1 social media site, but LinkedIn is not far behind, particularly for professionals. Here are a few tips on how to better use LinkedIn for yourself and your business.

Personal Profile

• If you do not have a LinkedIn account, you’re really missing out. It’s like having a business but no website. Without LinkedIn, you immediately lose credibility and relevance.

• Fill out your profile completely. If you have an account, be sure to use it by selling yourself, your experience and your business.

• When making connections, be sure to maintain business etiquette. For example, I would never walk up to someone at a business networking event, hand them my business card, say nothing at all and then simply walk away. Yet that is how many business professionals approach connecting on LinkedIn.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received this kind of introduction: “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” They didn’t address me by name, and they didn’t take the time to type in a personal message.

It’s bad enough when someone you know doesn’t take the time to write a personal message, but it’s even worse when I get LinkedIn connection requests from people whom I’ve never even met.

If birds of a feather flock together, I want to know who I’m flying with, and you should too. You should have a personal and/or professional relationship with all of your connections because after all, in business, your connections matter.

Business Profile

• Once again, your first step is to create a profile for your business.

• Like your personal profile, make sure your business profile is filled out thoroughly. One area far too many companies forget to fill out is the products and services sections. It’s free advertising, so be sure to use it. List your products and services and provide well-thought-out descriptions. By doing this, you better promote your business, and it helps with search engine optimization.

• Connect with your employees and review your employee’s profiles. Help them create the most positive and professional profiles so that they are a positive reflection on you and your business.

So, while it’s true that how we connect with one another has forever changed, our approach to connecting with one another shouldn’t.

Yes, the human connection and courtesy still matter!

You need to take the same personal approach to LinkedIn connections as you would connecting with someone face-to-face. Don’t throw your business card at them and run away. Introduce yourself. Address them by name.

Tony Hsieh, founder and chief executive officer of Zappos    — a company and culture he built in no small part with social media — has said that he uses social media to create more personal connections with his employees and his customers. You should too.

Debi Hammond is founder and CEO of Merlot Marketing Inc., a full-service national marketing agency based in Sacramento. Email her at

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